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Preview: Kings at Heat

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THE OPPONENT

The Heat aren't terribly different now then when they beat the Kings in Sacramento earlier this season, or than when they swept the Kings last season. Dwyane Wade is quite good, and keeping him out of the paint is a requirement. Michael Beasley can shoot, and closing off on him -- meeting him where ever he goes -- is vital. Jermaine O'Neal can score in the post if you allow him to, and he will block your shot if you offer it on a dessert plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint (but only under those conditions!). Mario Chalmers is a thief and a gunman, Quentin Richardson is a shooter, etc. It's Wade, Beasley and some other dudes of minor import. The focus is, as it should be, on Wade.

Wade takes about an equal number of shots from 10 feet and closer as he does from 16 feet and further. (He also takes a couple shots from 10-15 feet, but I'm talking about close shots and far shots.) From within 10 feet of the basket, his effective field goal percentage is .598. From 16+ feet, it's .414. And never mind all the fouls he draws, most of which, one can assume, come in the paint. This is not rocket science. He can hit mid-range jumpers. But should he hit one, that is not license to defend the jumper more closely. Always defend the drive against Wade. Always. Let him shoot.

In Sacramento in early December, he got shots at the rim seven times, scoring 10 points. He also earned a total of 16 FTAs (14 FTMs), and again, we can assume the lion's share came due to penetration. Stop that! Have early help ready, and slag off him a touch when he gets the ball facing the hoop. No one can ever really stop a locked-in Wade, but you should at least try to prevent his superpowers from taking shape.

LAST TIME

Wade went off, Evans (30 pts) and Greene (21 pts) weren't enough, and the Kings lost badly.

KEY BATTLE

Kevin Martin vs. Dwyane Wade. We've seen Paul Westphal open to switching up defensive assignments, with Atlanta the best example: Tyreke Evans regularly guarded Joe Johnson, and Martin marked Mike Bibby. Expect the same here. The Kings still, however, need Martin to be productive on offense, something he only managed for one quarter of play Friday night in Orlando (the first, where he served as a facilitator). Miami can defend the rim (O'Neal, weakside Wade and occasionally Joel Anthony, who sees about 15 minutes a night these days) and force turnovers. But neither Wade nor Chalmers (nor Carlos Arroyo nor Rafer Alston) should be able to reliably keep Martin from getting to open places. I think the halfcourt Evans-Martin offense isn't too far off -- the pair really struggled from the floor, Martin from everywhere and Evans at the rim, Friday night -- and tonight could be a fine opportunity to show some sizzle.

On the other end, well, I've given my scouting report on stopping Wade. Plotting from the armchair and executing on the hardwood are, of course, related in no way.

BOLD PROCLAMATION

The "Miami flu" will not rear its ugly head on the Kings for the first time since roughly Nineteen Eighty Never.

BOLD BROCKLAMATION

Jon Brockman will go MKII Jax on Jamaal Maglore. "Ufkcin' Canadians," Mancakes said gloomily.

DETAILS

4:30 PM tip. THERE WILL BE A GAME THREAD! And a post-game thread, at 7:15. Again, sorry about the idiocy this week from Yours Truly. I'm a bad blogger. My punishment poem for Peaches coming shortly.